Sunday, 8 April 2012

They keep on charging

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Skulking behind its paywall, the Sunday Times today catches up with this blog, running a story, running a story on the illegality, a story which we ran in September last year, and Booker ran later the same month.

Better late than never, we might observe, as the piece author, Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas, tells us that "Britains bailiffs are charging council taxpayers hundreds of pounds in unlawful and fabricated fees for unpaid fined and bills". He adds: "small debts are inflated into huge sums with the illegal charges the impose".

The paper's informant is that vile creature John boast, who was outed in the "Exposure" television documentary last year, perpetrating exactly the illegal practice, about which. we have complained.

Boast, having been fired from Rossendales after the TV documentary, is alleging that "unlawful and excessive fees are rife". He goes on to say, "Most people do not understand the fees or how to complain and that is being utterly abused", then telling us: "I do not believe most of these charges could be justified in the courts".

Interestingly, the Ungoed-Thomas then cites a case familiar to us - the battle between Peter Troy and Equita, which he finally won when the bailiff company backed off from a court case and "waived" their fees.

This turns out to be a standard ploy adopted by these thieves, one which enables them to evade police attention. As I found out, when the slime are challenged robustly, they invariably back off.

Less robust was Tim Ellis in another case cited by Ungoed-Thomas, who was dunned by the JBW Group for £834.44 for an unpaid congestion charge, with the threat of another £300 if he refused to pay. Ellis paid up, but is now challenging the costs.

A major part of the problem here is that people do pay up, when they don't need to. This is quite understandable when the bailiffs clamp a car, or tow it away, but too many people cough up merely on the back of threatening letters, which have no legal standing at all. But the biggest part of the problem is the local authorities who commission these thieves, knowing their activities are illegal yet doing absolutely nothing about it.

The behaviour of local authorities – and the police – in this context has completely changed my attitude to the law. "The law is the law and must be obeyed", is the classic mantra, but the reality is that the law is that which the authorities decide to enforce, and that which they decide to obey.

Since the authorities regard compliance as optional, we see no reason why we should not treat the law in exactly the same way. What is good for the goose is good for the gander, as they say.

Anyhow, we understand that the Sunday Times may return to this subject, and it will be interesting to see whether Ungoed-Thomas gets any further than we did. But, with a billion-pound industry at stake, it is going to take more than even a few articles in this august newspaper to achieve anything.

When crime pays so handsomely, and the police sit on their hands, the perpetrators are not going to give it up easily. They will keep on charging, as long as people are prepared to pay..



  1. It is about time that the (so called) Government started GOVERNING which is what they take generous monies from the taxpayer for and closed this so called industry down. This is yet another example of created costs for the taxpayer which in turn force prices up for us all and ensure an ever widening gap between the haves and have nots of the political elite who steal regularly from the poorest to support their increasing greed (Consider MPs expenses and the utter disregard of senior Civil Servants for the rest of us (Think of Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister & co)

  2. Home Office do your job fund Police so that they can do their job and make them responsible for ensuring that all of those guilty are sent for trial and punished removing all of the rubbish which the Police are supposed to deal with like PC